5 Car Cleaning Tools You Should Have In Your Garage

Washing the car is a common task that homeowners face. Those living in suburban environments are likely to see a neighbor out washing their car on nearly every weekend day with decent weather. Car washing services remain a viable option for most, but there's just something tactile and satisfying about washing your own car and admiring the sparkle that emerges on its surface as the soapy solution is wiped away.

Experts note that a car should typically be cleaned once every two weeks, but this can vary depending on the quality of soap and wax that you use, and the amount of driving you do on a regular basis. Cleaning your car removes debris, roadway grime, and other gunk that builds up on the surface through the process of simply driving around town. 

Failing to clean the car can reduce the paint's vibrancy and the wheel finish, degrading the visual aesthetic of the vehicle. The same can apply to the interior of the car, with any spills or trash leaving stains in the carpet or upholstery.

Selecting a quality set of car washing tools can be a little tricky. There's a huge set of options out there and finding the best setup for your needs isn't always obvious. These tools will get you started and ensure that your washing routine is always efficient and enjoyable.

Bucket, sponges, rags, and soap

The humble bucket and sponge combination is a time honored tradition when it comes to washing cars. But buckets and sponges come in a collage of options, so choosing wisely is important.

Homeowners aren't limited to just simple tools these days, and a bucket that includes a roller attachment on the bottom, or dirt and debris screens in the bottom, can make your washing experience far more enjoyable. Modern buckets add flexibility and efficiency to the mix that an old five-gallon Home Depot bucket simply can't match.

The same goes for rags and sponges. Many homeowners use the same cleaning and drying tools year after year. A rag or sponge is what it is, some might reckon. But there's a huge difference in the terry cloth, microfiber tower, and cotton rag that may be seen around a routine car washing endeavor. 

Terry cloth towels are excellent for waxing the car, whereas a microfiber cloth can effectively lift away minute traces of debris leftover on the car while you're drying it. The same goes for sponges; mitt-type sponge tools make accessing tiny crevices easier than ever, while a microfiber sponge allows a car owner to scrub their vehicle to an immaculate standard.

Lastly, the soap you choose can improve the quality of the wash you experience. You can get a car shampoo solution that includes a light coating of wax, one that includes super foaming properties (reducing the "elbow grease" required), or specialized wheel-cleaning soaps.

Car wax

Wax is an essential tool in any homeowner's garage. Waxing your car should be a routine task that's fit into your cleaning routine every few months. There's no exact timing that will suit every vehicle owner, but a good schedule that protects your clear coat effectively will likely see a new coat of wax added with every seasonal change (so roughly four times per year). 

You can reduce this to once every six months, or even boost your waxing routine to include additional coats for an even shiner finish at all times. If you're really serious about the luster of your car, you can add a ceramic coating to the to-do list as well.

Wax itself can be found in a few varieties. Carnauba wax is a common option, but it doesn't last as long as some other wax applications, and will require more frequent application for the best shine. Paste wax is the traditional option, but you'll need to take your time with this product. Slathering it on in a circular motion and then buffing the car to achieve the shine should be done in manageable sections as you work your way around the entire vehicle. 

Liquid wax options are probably the easiest to apply, and are routinely offered at self-serve carwashes. Like carnauba wax formulations, a liquid wax won't last as long as a traditional paste application, but is incredibly easy to use.

A mobile vacuum setup

Vacuuming is a must in any car washing and detailing process. A car isn't clean if the interior still hosts the crumbs and debris of daily driving. A vacuum with a few different hose attachments is a good addition to your garage's toolbox. You could perform this function with a standard cordless vacuum from the house, of course, but the battery life and available attachments may make the process a little more difficult. 

A job-specific vacuum is a great option — these are much like shop vacuums that woodworkers or contractors might keep on hand. A long cord (or battery operated option) is a must, and powerful suction is obviously critical. With a solid filter and varied hose attachments on hand, you can reach smoothly around the car to tackle the tiny pockets and cracks between seats and into pockets. 

A typical light-duty vacuum will offer one to four horsepower motors that can perform admirably in most car cleaning environments. If you're thinking of opening your own washing and detailing service; a larger, heavy-duty vacuum with greater filtration and collection capacity might be warranted, though.

Brushes and other specialized scrubbing tools

In addition to the towels and sponges in your toolbox, a car owner looking to bring a fresh clean to the exterior of their car will need a variety of specialized brushes. Brushes come in a great abundance of sizes, shapes, and styles, and are most effective in difficult corner spaces like around the wheels.

A set of brushes that allow you to turn the tight corners and release built up brake dust and grime throughout the wheel area is a must for anyone looking to effectively clean the car on their own. You might also consider using foam cannon devices to blast foaming cleaning agents in through the gaps. Some people use a toothbrush to meticulously dig into these crevices, but this can be immensely time consuming because of the size of a standard toothbrush head.

Specialized scrubbing brushes and other wheel cleaning additions will bring a comprehensive clean to the car that simply isn't possible with a standard sponge. Testing out a few options may be necessary to solve for whatever difficulties you face with your particular model. 

Some common options are long handled scrubbers, angled brushes, and flat brushes that place the handle directly behind the face for the efficient application of pressure. If you're really stuck for a clean here, however, you might try out a dry ice cleaning.

A rolling work seat

For those with mobility concerns, a rolling work seat is a great addition to the garage. This chair can make all kinds of homeowner-related tasks easier. From fixing electronics in the garage, to washing the car, work seats that enhance mobility are a great option.

If you're working through the waxing and polishing process, for instance, it might take up to five hours to apply and buff out a full coat of paste-based wax across your car's entire surface. The ability to sit down and get up close to the work surface can be a Godsend for anyone, not just those with aging joints or sore muscles.

Adding this tool to your arsenal can make the work of vacuuming, waxing, and cleaning more broadly far more enjoyable. It brings a new level of mobility to the process of garage or driveway work that wouldn't be possible otherwise.